Heritage Days to kick off in June

Huntington’s 57th Heritage Days is planned for Wednesday, June 16, through Sunday, June 20. The celebration will feature the theme from the event planned for 2020, The ’70s: 200 Years of Freedom.

Heritage Days 2020 were canceled due to COVID-19. All plans for 2021 are tentative and dependent on the health conditions in the community.

Duke Energy is the corporate sponsor for Heritage Days 2021.

The official button for Heritage Days 2021 shows fireworks surrounding the United States flag. This depiction commemorates the celebrations of the country’s Bicentennial and Huntington’s Centennial in the ’70’s. The official colors of Heritage Days 2021 are red, white and blue.

The Heritage Days Parade is planned for Saturday, June 19, beginning at 10 a.m. The parade will begin at Huntington North High School and continue down MacGahan and Jefferson streets. It will follow Jefferson Street straight through the downtown area with its completion at Etna Avenue. The theme can be carried through on parade entries with anything pertaining to the ’70s.

In Huntington, the ’70s included plans for the country’s 1976 Bicentennial celebration and the city of Huntington’s 100th anniversary in 1973. A commemorative historical handbook celebrating Huntington’s Centennial showed 90 well-diversified industries, 14 public schools, a newspaper, radio station, six parks, 28 churches, three financial institutions and Jefferson Park Mall and Huntington Plaza shopping center with 22 retail outlets. Development continued at Riverfork Industrial Park, the current gymnasium and auditorium opened at Huntington North High School with the 1975-76 school year, Norwood Golf Course (now Maple Grove Golf Course) was built and housing additions and new homes continued to be built.

Then future Vice President Dan Quayle practiced law in Huntington and taught at Huntington College beginning in 1974. He became the associate publisher of his family’s newspaper, The Huntington Herald Press, and his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976 followed. On Oct. 16, 1976, The Huntington Junior Historical Society staged the first Forks of the Wabash pioneer Festival and the Blizzard of ’78 has never been forgotten by those who endured it.

The ’70s were formative years toward the modern history of Huntington College, now Huntington University. The college received its first gift from Orville and Ruth Merillat, a $1 million donation to help build a new physical education, athletics and recreation facility. Over the next 20 years the college benefitted greatly from philanthropic efforts of the Merillat family as the campus expanded and new buildings appeared to serve a growing student body.

Current plans for this year’s Heritage Days festivities, subject to change, include the traditional Chief of the Flint Springs Tribe breakfast Thursday, June 17, in the morning, and the annual Rotary Strawberry Feed on Thursday, June 17, in the evening at Heritage Hall. A MetroNet car, truck and motorcycle show on Friday, June 18, in the evening in downtown Huntington is also planned.

The Huntington County Disaster Team car, truck and motorcycle show is planned for Huntington North High School at 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 19.

A free Kids Zone including bounce houses, games, Huntington City-Township Public Library activities and face painting, Archery Tag, Hover Ball, free pony rides and petting zoo and more may take place at HNHS from 5 to 8 p.m. Food will be available for purchase and DJ Dick Smart will provide the music and announcements.

Hot air balloon launches are planned, followed by a balloon glow at dark.

Emergency vehicles along with the Samaritan helicopter may be on hand for tours.

JeFFFest is tentatively planned for Sunday evening, June 20, on Franklin Street between Warren and Jefferson streets, completing the Heritage Days festivities.

Poor Jack’s Amusements will provide the midway and carnival rides for 2021. Rides and activities are planned for the Cherry Street area from Wednesday, June 16, through Sunday, June 20. Streets involved with the carnival will close on Monday, June 14, at 3 p.m. to allow for set-up. Heritage Days is coordinated by a Steering Committee of the Huntington County Chamber of Commerce.

Parade and event forms can be found on the Chamber’s website and are ready to download. For more information, contact the chamber at 356-5300 or visit hunting toncountychamber.com.